Portrait of a Julio-Claudian girl

Roman
Imperial Period


Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 335; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 114 (additional published references).

Dimensions

49.2 x 15 cm (19 3/8 x 5 7/8 in.)

Accession Number

88.642

Medium or Technique

Marble, from Carrara, Italy

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

The nose and bust from the lower middle of the neck are restored. The wavy hair was rounded off below the base of the neck, to meet the restored shoulders.
The series of waves into which the hair was fashioned run to the back of the head. This head, from its frontality and lack of animation, would appear to have come from a bust, similar to that as now restored (with perhaps part of the chiton showing) rather than from a statue, mythological or otherwise. The subject is probably not imperial, certainly not “Agrippina the Younger,” as described in the museum’s early inventories, but probably a private person. The idealized portrait may have been funerary.
The style of the hair, carved in deep, flat waves, can be related, either in the original or in the Graeco-Roman copy, to the “Sleeping Girl” in the Museo Nazionale Romano. It is interesting to note, for comparative dating, that the head in Rome was found in the so-called Villa of Nero of Subiaco. This Julio-Claudian portrait has a refreshing, personal flavor,which has not been eliminated in the recutting and restorations which the sulpture has suffered. In this respect the little girl recalls the so-called Clytie, perhaps Antonia, daughter of Mark Anthony and mother of Germanicus, and the Emperor Claudius, in the British Museum, although this famous bust springing from a flower is in a much better state of preservation.

Scientific Analysis:

University of South Florida Lab No. 8423: Isotope ratios - delta13C +1.8 / delta18O -1.6,

Attribution - Carrara. Justification - C and O isotopes, fine grain

Provenance

By 1888: with Augusto Valenzi (said to have been found in Rome); purchased from Augusto Valenzi by R. Lanciani; purchased by MFA from R. Lanciani, 1888, for $493.92 (this figure is the total price of MFA 88.538–88.644 and 89.9–89.31)

Credit Line

Benjamin Pierce Cheney Donation